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Press Release


Kyle Owens and Messick

Patricia Edwards and Avendaro

Kyle Owens and Messick

Jordan Allen and Turn Key

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Amateur-Owner Champions Named To Conclude Third Week of Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Written by: Elaine Wessel
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2015-07-19

Traverse City, MI – July 19, 2015 – Great Lakes Equestrian Festival III came to a close today, but not before the Amateur-Owners had their chance to accrue one final tricolor to end the show week. Both age groups had clear frontrunners headed into the second day of competition, with all of them aiming to maintain momentum and solidify their place atop the leaderboard. Running throughout the day in competitors’ respective divisions, the $2,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Classic posed an opportunity for riders to leave with some prizemoney in their pocket.

The first to go in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunters for the 18 to 35 age group, Kyle Owens with the ride aboard Messick commenced the morning on a promising note, delivering a solid trip over designer Keith Bollette’s track to set a high standard for the remaining riders. With the challenge thrown down, the rider-owners and their horses chased the lead in the hopes of earning the championship, but the first ride of the day proved to be the best as Owens and Messick were awarded first place honors in both over fences classes.

The pair’s winning trips this morning, combined with a first place finish in the hack and a second place yesterday, which coincidentally came behind Owens’ other mount in the class, was more than enough points to earn Messick and his rider the champion spot.

Originally a jumper, Owens imported the 6-year-old Messick from overseas two years ago and transitioned him into the hunter ring as the horse didn’t have the speed to compete on the European circuit. Although he did have the qualities necessary of a jumper, his downfall in that discipline has proved to be a factor for his success in his new career.

“He was way too slow for the jumpers because he has such a slow canter and jump, but luckily that makes him great for the hunters. His rhythm is the best, and it is so easy to maintain the same pace around the course. He has such a pretty look,” Owens said.

Owens and Messick are part of Peter Pletcher’s PJP Team, based out of Magnolia, Texas, and are no strangers to Traverse City. This is Owens’ third year competing in Michigan, and the entirety of the farm plans to keep the new Great Lakes Equestrian Festival on their summer calendar.

“We love it here. It is a really fun show with so much to do outside the showgrounds as well,” Owens noted.

With one more week still to ride, the champion hopes to accumulate a few more accolades with his six horses to round out the series. The Pre-Green Finals in Lexington next month will be the next stop for Owens and PJP Farm.

Piper Benjamin and Oak Grove clinched the reserve position with strong performances today, improving upon their position in the standings after the first day of competition by garnering two red-ribbon finishes and a third position. 

Later in the day in the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, the 35 and older section of the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunters was held. Headed into the second day of the division, Patricia Edwards’s Avendaro and Jill Donaldson’s Troubadour had the advantage above the rest of the pack after both receiving two top-three finishes to take the early lead. With the results proving inconsistent over the course of today’s three classes, two fences trips and a hack, entrants waited in anticipation to hear the overall results of the close race. Ultimately, it was Edwards and Avendaro who came out on top, undoubtedly pushed to the lead by their top finish in the under saddle.

Edwards has owned Avendaro for three years, and is now into her second competition year in the Amateur-Owners at the 3’3” height with the horse. She attribute much of their success to Avendaro’s easy way of going, his powerful jump style, and consistent self-carriage.

“I always feel so grateful to come up here and get into the top three.  We’ve done well this week so I’m very excited,” Edward reflected.

The winning pair reign from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are into their fifth year competing at the show in their home state.

“We have been coming up to this show for years now, and we love it because of the tough competition. Unfortunately we won’t be here next week. It’s time to get back to work,” Edwards laughed.

Just behind the winning partnership, Troubadour and owner-rider Jill Donaldson navigated their way to the reserve championship. They earned a second place this morning in the hack, followed by a fourth spot over fences.

The $2,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Classic brought 18 eager entries to the ring, with two Junior riders claiming the top prizes and the largest stake of the prizemoney. Jordan Allen and Turn Key, owned by Kim Carey, rode their way to the top with a total score of 167, followed by Sophie Gochman and father David Gochman’s World Time in the reserve position with marks of 158. Owens and Messick took third prize only one point behind Gochman.

The third week of equestrian action in Traverse City concluded today at Flintfields Horse Park, but Great Lakes Equestrian Festival will resume Wednesday to commence the fourth and final week of competition. Highlighted in the hunter ring will be Saturday afternoon’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by the Gochman Family, which is sure to bring high-caliber competitors, and Sunday’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby.

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